IBM establishes $500 million Net venture fund

With IBM Global Financing, Big Blue plans to focus on funding business-to-business e-commerce start-ups.

IBM today said it has established a $500 million financing program to fund Internet start-ups, with a focus on business-to-business e-commerce companies.

The new fund, IBM Global Financing, will team with select venture capital firms to provide financing for IBM hardware, software and services to emerging Internet companies that have already completed their first round of venture financing, Big Blue said in a statement.

IBM joins a growing list of large companies that have recently announced venture capital units they plan to use to nab a piece of the lucrative Internet economy.

Last month, consulting giant EDS said it will launch the EDS-A.T. Kearney Ventures fund, focusing on high-growth business-to-business (B2B) start-ups. That news followed similar announcements made by Big Five consulting firm Andersen Consulting, systems integrator Cambridge Technology Partners and media giant Time Warner.

In addition, IBM said it offers a broad range of financial alternatives specifically for emerging Internet companies, such as flexible leasing, financing and rent-to-own options for its products.